Todd Haynes: Finding the frequency of the Velvet Underground

Brian Eno's comment that although the Velvet Underground didn't sell many records but everyone who bought one did start a band is the most popular thing about them.

Todd Haynes: Finding the frequency of the Velvet Underground

Brian Eno's comment that although the Velvet Underground didn't sell many records but everyone who bought one did start a band is the most popular thing about them.

Haynes, the unorthodox filmmaker of "Carol", "I'm Not There," and "Far From Heaven", rejects a traditional treatment for the Velvets. This is fitting considering his pioneering, uncompromising subject. The Velvet Underground, which will debut Friday in theaters and on Apple TV+ is boldly artistic, boundless, and stimulating. The film's refusal to accept the obvious makes it seem like Lou Reed would be happy.

Haynes stated that he didn't have to make a film to show how great the band was in an interview this year, ahead of the film's Cannes Film Festival debut. "There were many things I was going be like: "OK, we know that." Let's now get to the story of how it happened, how it all came together, how these people got there, and how they came together to create this amazing group of people.

"The Velvet Underground," which features rare footage, includes John Cale, a founding member of the band, Jonathan Richman, an early disciple of Modern Lovers, Jonas Mekas (the late pioneering filmmaker who filmed Velvet Underground's first performance in 1964) and to whom the film is dedicated.

The most unique thing about "The Velvet Underground is how it revives the 1960s New York art scene. Haynes meticulously describes the fertile downtown environment of Warhol’s Factory, the explosion in queer New York, and how Lou Reed was turned on by acts such as the experimental drone music and subversive poetry Delmore Schwartz. Avant-garde film, art and music came together. The documentary is more than anything a revelatory portrait about artistic crosspollination.

Haynes says that "you really felt that coexistence" and that creative inspiration was being exchanged from medium to medium. Haynes notes that such local hotbeds are now a victim of the digital age. I want that today. "I don't know where it is."

Haynes' first documentary is "The Velvet Underground". He's previously made artificially created stories of great musicians. His "Velvet Goldmine," a glam rock fantasia of David Bowie, was his "Velvet Goldmine". He cast seven actors in "I'm Not There" instead of trying to find a single actor capable of playing Bob Dylan.

Haynes says, "When I was researching on the Bowie of "Velvet Goldmine" or all the Dylans from "I'm Not Here," I came across the real thing." "I felt that if I was going to create this in fiction, I should do something with it. You're not comparing the fake with the real thing, apples to apple. It's in a different language. You put it in a different context. The frame is visible.

Reed, who passed away in 2013, was not met by Haynes. He did meet Reed at the Whitney Biennial, but he only saw him once. "I was too afraid," he said. Reed granted Haynes permission to use "Satellite of Love," in "Velvet Goldmine." Laurie Anderson (Red's widow, and filmmaker) endorsed Haynes' direction of the film. Other estates like Andy Warhol were also supportive.

The film includes footage by Warhol, who was the only person to have ever documented the Velvets. Split screen shows the screen tests of the Factory band members, which are usually seen as still photos. Reed and Cale stare provocatively at you.

"The only film that shows them is made by one of 20th-century's greatest artists. Haynes says that this is a rare and strange thing. There isn't any traditional coverage of the band performing live. Warhol films are all that is available. To tell a great story, we only need art within art.

Updated Date: 14 October 2021, 15:43

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